The American Dream in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The American Dream: an American social ideal that stresses egalitarianism and especially material prosperity; also: the prosperity or life that is the realization of this ideal. (Webster Dictionary) For many generations, people have searched for fulfillment through the idea of the American Dream. People who strive to achieve: wealth, happiness, social status, and who want to change their lives have chased this idea. Those who strive to achieve greatness in the American Dream try to climb up the social ladder and out of poverty to make something out of themselves. Though the American Dream promises a change for the better, it often falls short of fulfilling the success and sometimes leads to the downfall of its victims.
Lavish parties, big houses, and a multitude of wealth are all things associated with the idea of the American Dream, as displayed by Jay Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. His journey from rags to riches epitomizes the goal of the American Dream. Gatsby, born into a lower class family, grew up with little to nothing, so he set out to make something out of himself. In his adolescence, Gatsby surrounded himself with members of a high social class and realized that he could work his way up to their standard. Jay takes an opportunity of a lifetime by joining Dan Cody on his yacht as an apprentice to learn how to act like a true gentleman. (pg. 99) This helped him develop into one of the wealthiest men on Long Island. By owning storefronts and illegally bootlegging, he created his empire. He was given the rare opportunity to change his life, similar to Walter in A Raisin In the Sun. In a NPR conversation, Jeb Bush’s comment, “You have people that are born poor, and there's a higher and higher probability...

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... sometimes the downfall of those surrounding them.

Works Cited

A Rasin In The Sun. Dir. Kenny Leon. Perf. Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, Sanaa Lathan, and John Stamos. , 2008. DVD.
"American dream." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 3 May 2014. .
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1996. Print.
Geoghegan, Tom. "The Great Gatsby: What it says to Modern America." BBC News. N.p., 9 Aug. 2011. Web. 4 May 2014. .
Neary, Lynn, Marilyn Geewax, Erin Currier, Jeb Bush, and Mika Brzezinski. "Social Mobility: Is The American Dream Slipping Away?." NPR. NPR, 7 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 May 2014.
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